If you've lost a job or have been forced to resign as a result of a disabling injury, you are probably prepared to apply for disability benefits and resign yourself to a life without paid work. However, receipt of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments does not necessarily mean you can't hold down a job. Read on to learn more about the intersection between SSDI payments and the workforce, as well as what you can do to increase your income while receiving SSDI payments.
What is SSDI?
SSDI is a type of federally-funded disability benefit that is eligible to those who have spent some time in the workforce, paying Social Security taxes. Like your Social Security retirement benefits, the amount of SSDI for which you're eligible largely depends upon the amount of your wages while you were in the workforce. If you don't have sufficient work credits to qualify for SSDI, you may still qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), a lower, need-based disability payment.
What types of jobs can you hold down while receiving SSDI?
In general, to qualify for SSDI benefits, you must be physically unable to perform the type of work for which you've been trained. However, if you're still able to perform other types of paid work, you may be able to take part in a program that encourages SSDI recipients to retrain for an alternative job. For example, if you are a surgeon and are in a car accident that damages one of your hands, you may be unable to perform surgeries -- but still able to work in an office. If you work in construction and have a knee replacement, you may be able to retrain to work as an estimator or supervisor.
While you're engaged in this training or transition, you'll still be able to receive SSDI benefits. Once you've acclimated to the workforce and have demonstrated your ability to work a certain type of job, your SSDI payments will cease. Generally, you're permitted to test this transition over a 5-year period. Working with a social security disability lawyer like those at the Law Offices Of Russell J. Goldsmith will provide you more specific information.
Can you work while receiving SSI?
Because SSI is a need-based payment for those who have not earned enough work credits to receive SSDI, this transition program doesn't apply. SSI recipients can often engage in paid work while receiving SSI payments; however, these payments may be reduced by the amount of additional income coming into the household. Depending upon the physical toll this work takes on you, you may choose to work a few days a week or simply choose to stay home and rest.